Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Queuing Up To Be The Public Hangman

The post of hangman is likely to be the only public sector appointment that 'The Guardian' would refuse to advertise; yet Akmal Shaikh's execution has shown just how many people seem to feel that they would have the stomach for it.
In a particularly nasty outing in the 'Daily Mail', Leo McKinstry is first to congratulate the Chinese. He writes that Shaikh was ' (a) bankrupt with a chequered financial history, a tangled personal life, and an obsession with easy money'. This words could, it seem, equally apply to a number of former Members of Parliament, and any number of company promoters and Fleet Street journalists. So do we kill them all as well? McKinstry's also good at smacking down suggestions that Shaikh was mentally ill. Real nice. Real class.
In 'The Times', Piers Morgans' father-in-law-to-be writes that we must 'remember the Opium Wars'. Dude, if you want to beat yourself up the Opium Wars, I can lend you a stick. In the meantime, if we want to go down the road of historic grievance, we can all remember Genghis Khan.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

VDare

Please do donate if possible. Peter Brimelow has been putting out appeals for funds for over a week now; and my apologies to him for not responding more quickly.
If VDare were to tank, it is unlikely that any other news source would report on the appalling infringement of civil liberties suffered by the blogger 'Tunnel Rat'. Such stories have to be told.

The Execution Of Akmal Shaikh

The whole incident is very sad; and my sympathies to his family.
One has met enough illness deniers during the course of one's life to give Mr. Shaikh the benefit of the doubt regarding his bipolar disorder. This would almost certainly render him sufficiently vulnerable to be duped into carrying drugs.
If there are lessons to be learned from this, the principal ones would seem to be that while one cannot live the disableds' lives for them, by the same token for a delusional man to be roaming around Eastern Europe to the extent that he's able to fall into the clutches of drug smugglers might perhaps indicate that the supervision of the mentally ill remains chronically defective.
And while the BBC might describe him an a 'EU national' as if the EU were a nation, I would hope that this incident deters people from going to China. One nation perpetrates 72% of the world's executions. That is not a penal system. That is a bloodlust.

The CBI

The BBC reports that CBI Scotland has accused Scottish ministers of 'disappointing behaviours'.
With its not so vaguely fascistic title, the Confederation of British Industry has long seemed to be the nation's only socially acceptable trade union. It is bizarre that trade unionism should be acceptable for employers but not for workers, a gross injustice which seems to escape mainstream comment. One has no interest in the doings of employers at the best of times; one's experience of small businesspeople has largely been that many, if not most, have no knowledge of anything outside their particular area of business, that some start small businesses as a result of suffering from what seem to be psychopathic personality disorders so severe that they can't work with other people, and that the speaking clock is likely to provide more stimulating conversation.
Never having learned that, in a democracy, business is carried on at the sufferance of the public, that the public are the landlords who own the economy, and that the public interest overrides commercial interests at all times and under all circumstances, the CBI and its members would be better off keeping quiet and thanking its and their lucky stars that they get to do their thing here and not somewhere else where the opinions of businesspeople might be treated with the contempt that most of them seem to deserve. Their views are of no importance whatsoever.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Enemy Of Your Enemy Is Not Necessarily Your Friend

Something caught my eye while reading Ariane Sherine's most recent drivellings that appears worthy of comment.
She wrote that she's "definitely going to finish the series of blog posts on The Atheist's Guide to Christmas, but probably closer to Christmas now - apologies (blogger's note - this didn't happen). However, in more exciting news, Richard Dawkins, Derren Brown, Simon Le Bon, Ben Goldacre, Charlie Brooker, Simon Singh and many more of the book's contributors have signed an original Atheist Bus Campaign bus poster, which is now being auctioned for charity on eBay".
Presumably that's the same Simon Singh whose libel battle with the British Chiropractic Association has become something of a cause celebre in respect of the English courts' unmandated expansion of the libel laws into the field of scientific enquiry. One wishes Mr. Singh well with that battle; but in the really big battles, he seems to stand foursquare with the assorted conjurers, faded New Romantics, loudmouthed media people, 'comediennes' and, er, academics who have provided Ariane's Blossoming Career - sorry, the Atheist Bus Campaign - with its intellectual heft.
Such intolerance really gets one's back up, so to speak.

A Very Interesting Read

The distinguished beardie and professional Europhile Timothy Garton Ash takes a break from propagandising to produce a very thought-provoking essay that concerns a number of difficult but unavoidable things.

A Commentary Not Worth Publishing

Although he does occasionally have interesting things to say (the operative word being, of course, 'occasionally'), in my eyes the hereditary mediacrat Giles Coren's attempted reworking of The Ten Commandments possesses much the same degree of literary merit as the barcode on a tin of catfood.
The thought processes behind it seem so small as to be almost invisible, and the whole thing just screams out 'Pseud!' One would hope that Mr. Coren's New Year's resolutions would include developing the degree of professional resolve required to refrain from attempting the trivialisation of the untrivialisable; nor to make a complete cack of himself by poking fun at topics which appear, in this writer's eyes, to be a bit too difficult for him.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Wrong Frame Of Mind For The Day

Let us hope that the straitjacket in which their assailant is confined is suitably stylish.
Let us also hope that the Commandant of the Swiss Guard resumes his original vocation as a goatherder halfway up an Alp.
And let us hope that Sister Mary Elvis Fitzgerald, Ariane Sherine (did anyone actually, er, know that she was playing Glasgow last week?) and the other spiritual homunculi over at 'Comment is Free' do not feel the need to gloat over a crazy's assault on an old man.

The Right Frame Of Mind For The Day

"And last, but not least, we have the Justin Raimondo Award for Verbosity in the Face of an Intractable Deadline, otherwise known as the Annoying Hack of the Year prize, which recognizes in the recipient several characteristics rarely found in a single writer.

First, one must write often – not weekly, not twice weekly, but at least thrice-weekly, even when you haven’t got all that much to say. Furthermore, one must say it while getting in all sorts of little digs and vicious asides at people one finds annoying, preferably in the most tasteless manner imaginable. It always helps nominees for this particular award if their prose is undisciplined, far too casual given the seriousness of its ostensible subject. And, most importantly, it is absolutely necessary for the recipient of this much-coveted honor to alienate and even insult as many of his or her readers as possible." -
A very Merry Christmas to you.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Look At Me! Look At Me!

It turns out that Ms. Fitzgerald has been a backstreet Internet commentator even longer than I have, which is really saying something - her first appearance on CiF was a pre-9/11 discussion of Elvis impersonators' television viewing habits.
To this reader, the intellectual level hasn't really been ratcheted up much since then; indeed, Ms. Fitzgerald's abortion article marks a new low point in the history of 'Comment is Free'.
While reading CiF is necessary, there is little pleasure in it. Penned by metropolitan pseuds for metropolitan pseuds, its literary merits are strictly limited; its value as a read lies somewhere between a household drill's operating manual and the price tag on a packet of toilet rolls. Operated under an editorial culture which seems almost insanely hostile to Christianity, and to those evil papishes in particular, many of its commentators clearly boil with hatred of the Incarnation, and at the idea that anything or, more sinisterly, anyone can stand between them and their achievement of their vision of the kind of world they want to live in, whether you would wish your worst enemy to live in it or not. As with all other materialists, it's all about them. These people are not debaters, but patrician intellectuals. Or so they think - but like all patrician intellectuals, the extent to which they have never strayed from the reading list, nor made the slightest effort to develop ideas of their own, is often painfully, if not actually embarrassingly, clear.
In the round, the majority of CiF commentators, Worstall of course excluded, are some of the most vicious tossers on the Internet.
As for Ms. Fitzgerald's offering, presented to the public like an infant displaying a soiled nappy to their parent in the hope they'll approve of what's been produced, well, it hits all the buttons. Opposition to abortion is 'shrill'. We must protect the doctors. 'The rules penalise the youngest, poorest and most disadvantaged'; the mothers, that is, not their murdered children. Ireland has a 'vocal anti-abortion lobby'; yeah, Mary, sing it! Keep your rosaries out of our ovaries! You go, girl!
This is an article which reeks of 'Look At Me! Look At Me!' As a piece of commentary which gives the impression that there is no case the author will not make, however vile, for purposes best known to themselves, it is on a par with Oliver Kamm's defence of cluster munitions.
Yet for all that it is preposterone-fuelled rubbish, it is also alarming - it shows that there is no time of year when CiF will not push what seems to be its agenda for the abolition of Catholicism on to its readers. They can't leave us alone, not even two days before Christmas. And even five days before the Feast of The Holy Innocents, they just can't leave the little ones alone. They can never leave the little ones alone - even for a second. Welcome to the Britreich.
Bastards.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why Weren't The Banks Nationalised?

The cockamamie, Heath Robinson nature of the banking bailouts, which seemed to enable the bankers to remain as arrogant as they always were while swathed in the comfort blanket of taxpayer funds, makes one wonder why they weren't all just nationalised outright.
If governments were to be asked about this, they might state their fear of 'capital flight', the principal cause of the Asian banking crisis of 1997; if foreign investors see a country's banks being nationalised, the domino effect produced by the hitting of 'Send' keys in glass towers will collapse your economy in seconds - such are the vagaries of modern economic theory, it might even collapse before you've made the decision to nationalise. These economists are all really sharp cookies; an expression which, like so much in economics, should properly be considered a contradiction in terms.
Capital flight is one of the most interesting phenomena of modern times. It seems strange to believe that digital money can cross the globe unimpeded at lightspeed at the same point in history at which it costs £14.50 for a weekly bus pass to take you from one side of Glasgow to the other, and when the UK now has a particular train fare that costs a grand a pop for a ticket, but there you go. As far as the UK's concerned, of course, capital flight was never on the cards for a moment. While the banks might talk up Burundi's potential as a developing economy, and bellow like mountain gorillas about how they'll move your money away from you if you don't do what they want, London has a number of amenities - such as Harrods, Harvey Nichols, The Royal Opera House, The British Museum, Latvian whores, the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and the number of a reliable coke dealer on your speed-dial - which Bujumbura might lack; and let's face it, nobody really wants to foul their own nest. Bankers might view postings to exotic locations as being good for their careers; but I'm also sure many hope that such postings will be for as brief a period as is humanly possible.
As an aside, if the UK were to suffer from capital flight, it would expose the extent to which government no longer controls the economy; and we can't be having that. One wonders how long it will be before the post of 'Chancellor of the Exchequer' is declared obsolete; if the banking crisis has shown nothing else, it's that the guys with the money are always in charge, and that the bankers always seem to have the money even when they're bust. There are those who believe this lack of control to be a good thing; given that all views on this matter are likely to be wrong, I am neutral one way or the other.
However, what those who tout deregulation, are for 'cutting red tape', and the unending procession of old, fat, hardfaced men who bray (and I mean really bray, like donkeys - somebody pin a tail on them, please) that what's 'good for business is good for Britain', aren't ever now challenged upon is why one section of national life should to all intents and purposes be exempt from the oversight of the law. At bottom, that's what deregulation means; the private human being is to be governed by law but the business sector isn't. They seem to believe that laws are good for you but not for them, so shut up and do as you're told. This legalophobia invests limited liability companies, entities which cannot be said to exist in the real world other than through the operation of legal fictions, with more rights than you and me; for legal vacuums do nothing but invest those who live in them with absolute rights.
The way in which the culture of deregulation expanded at the same time as the contraction of civil liberties makes one wonder whether liberal capitalism needs illiberal laws to operate most efficiently.
But that's all by the by. The flightless bird which is the capital produced by fractional reserve banking was never going to take off. The reason why we now own banks but don't seem to have any say in how they're run might be more mundane.
If the banks were nationalised, everything in them, from the dealing records of the young, lean, hardfaced men whose actions were always cheered on in the good times by the aforementioned old, fat, hardfaced men, to the negotiations which went into the accumulation of the old, fat, hardfaced mens' pension pots, could have been subject to the terms of the Freedom of Information Act. You could have been able to see how Fred Goodwin came to be awarded a pension of £600,000 a year (if memory serves, also index-linked - none of that inflation rubbish for the bankers); and you could also have been able to see how the 'sanctity of contract' which meant he couldn't be stripped of the lot also meant that he was probably entitled to only about two-thirds of the original total. The negotiations regarding the reduction in Goodwin's pension would certainly have been interesting to read.
The banking bailouts were not really about saving the banking system in the end; they were about saving bankers. There was no reason why the banks couldn't have been nationalised. A good dose of humility is what these people needed; they would not learn it of their own accord, and it is a pity that the peoples' representatives did not see fit to impose it upon them. This was bad for bankers' mental health, as it gave them the impression that, no matter what they do, the taxpayer will always act as the lender of last resort, a state of affairs guaranteed not to produce the inhibition which the current fiasco has definitively proven to be necessary in bankers' characters.
But it was also bad for democracy; one set of individuals has been protected, while everyone else gets thrown to the wolves. All political parties are mere gangs; yet it does not matter a jot which gang had held office at the time the crisis broke, so to speak. Mainstream British politics is now so monoideological that they would all have adopted the same solution; and don't listen to any of their shills who say anything different. In 2008, it was not merely 'the banking system', that entity which it is often forgotten is nothing more or less than the bankers who work within it, that failed; government failed as well. By failing to be even-handed, it made us a two-tier nation; it is to be hoped that this point, the point at which the maintenance of some commercial activities became more important to the state than its discharge of its duties to the people, and commercial secrets assumed a higher importance than state secrets, is not an event which future historians might one day ponder as being one of the milestones we passed on the road we travelled towards the loss of our democracy.
Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Resignation Of Peter Tatchell

As the sufferer of a brain illness which is at times quite limiting, I should perhaps feel more sorry for Peter Tatchell than I do.
Despite now finding himself more forgetful then he used to be (he is 57 years old), and claiming to have suffered a head injury in a bus accident, Tatchell alleges that he has required to stand down as a candidate for the Green Party on account of brain injuries he claims to have received in 2001 in Brussels when protesting the anti-homosexual policies of Robert Mugabe, and in 2007 when on a gay rights march in Moscow. Even his illness must be turned to campaigning purposes.
Tatchell is a zealot who went to these places seeking martyrdom; maybe not the full boona, but to be bloodied for his cause nonetheless. While obviously not endorsing the violence he suffered, anyone who goes to Russia to wave gay rights in the faces of a people who have and have had very much more serious social issues to deal with is unserious, and lacking in respect for Russian culture and history. He knew or ought to have known that Russian cops are apparently very much more robust than their British fellows, but he went ahead and did it anyway. He sought crucifixion, and now finds his claimed stigmata difficult to live with. He is the political equivalent of a motorcyclist who drives off without putting on their crash helmet; if you get hurt as a result, then I'm sorry for you but the bottom line is that it's largely your own bloody fault.
Hat tip - Laban Tall.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Cancer Of Lawyerlyness

Add a dash of a legal culture which now demands that you must perform every action with regard to how your actions will look in court; a discipline demanded of you even when you are engaged in what might be a fight to the death that you have not chosen, in a place where you are entitled to feel safe.
Having been a lawyer, one can only say that demanding that people behave with excessive lawyerlyness leads only to lawlessness.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A World Without Borders

I was in the Buchanan Street branch two days ago; it was bedlam. The history section had been stripped almost bare. One could not help but wonder how many of the volumes that once stood there would ever actually be read, or had been purchased simply for the having.
The red ink which inevitably appears when the avaricious turn bookshops into supermarkets defaces the culture as surely as a careless child defaces a treasured volume with its crayons; and those who operate the private equity outfit which has run Borders into the ground just in time for Christmas, with massive job losses, should perhaps remember the following words -
"At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir."

"Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge.

"Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

"And the Union workhouses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"

"They are. Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish I could say they were not."

"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?" said Scrooge.

"Both very busy, sir."

"Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge. "I'm very glad to hear it."

"Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude," returned the gentleman, "a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?"

"Nothing!" Scrooge replied.

"You wish to be anonymous?"

"I wish to be left alone," said Scrooge. "Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned -- they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there."

"Many can't go there; and many would rather die."

"If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides -- excuse me -- I don't know that."

"But you might know it," observed the gentleman.

"It's not my business," Scrooge returned. "It's enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people's. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!"

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Nature Of Change

The usually sober Jeff Randall writes of the now anathemised strike by BA cabin crew that,
"On one level, the proposed BA strike is nothing more than a doomed effort by feather-bedded workers to resist discomforting change."
Tony Blair famously said to the Labour Party that they were 'the changemakers'. One of the most paradoxical aspects of British society is that those within it who are often the quickest to say that change is good for us and that we must modernise are almost always those who can't get their hands on medieval titles like knighthoods and lordships quickly enough.
Thus it was that 'Sir' Fred Goodwin, 'Fred the Shred' - motto: 'Vivat In Urbe Magnus Est' - who got his at the age of 45 for really what has since been shown to have been little more than putting tens of thousands of people out of work. He was absolutely wonderful at sacking people, but in the long run shown to be severely wanting in the skills required to run a bank in any direction other than into the ground. And yet those who attain these baubles seem very attached to them. I think that I was the first person to suggest that Goodwin be stripped of his knighthood; as it turned out, the United Kingdom's laws regarding the disqualification of company directors are so weak and unsatisfactory that it has transpired that he hadn't in fact done anything illegal, so that option isn't on the cards; but you would think that anyone knighted for running a bank who subsequently led it to the brink of ruin would at least be tempted to hand their knighthood back, if only as an exercise in humility and to show that they wish to preserve their honour - wouldn't you?
Similarly, Kraft Foods' proposed bid for Cadbury has produced a great deal of comment to the effect that Cadbury is too British a company to fall into foreign hands. Unless I am greatly mistaken, for which I apologise in advance, the Cadbury family are significant shareholders in the 'Economist' magazine, always assiduous in its desire for free markets and trade liberalisation. They wanted free trade, and they may just have got it. Unlike it would seem to be the case with Fred Goodwin, let us hope that they do not consider modernity to be good for everyone else, but not for them.

Cats In A Bag

'Cheesegate', the farrago involving the Scottish National Party and one of the less reputable type of political attack blogs written by one of its own party workers, an apparently grossly underemployed man of 46 paid £30,000 a year from the public purse before his departure from post, might just be going legal.
If it does, then of course the facts of the matter must be left to the courts to decide; but the sight of SNP worthies and Highheidyins fighting with each other like cats in a bag really does give one a warm glow inside on a cold December morning. It shows just how little support the SNP has across the nation, when not merely its most vociferous partisans, but also its most unhinged, are in its very bosom.
On a more ominous note, the rather dull Iain Gray, apparently now the leader of Scottish Labour, is reported as saying "I wish to see these anonymous blogs rooted out and got rid of." Mr. Gray should be invited to either grow up, or to grow a pair. He did not enter politics with a gun at his head. If he cannot stand the fact that fellow Scots might say disagreeable things about him, then he should not aspire to lead them. The type of entities that are 'rooted out and got rid of' are usually described as verminous; is that what he thinks anonymous bloggers are? Or anyone who happens to disagree with him? Is 'Scottish Labour' just as oppressive and illiberal as its national counterpart? In Scottish Labour's vision of Scotland, is free speech to be defined as your right to agree with what they say? Will Scotland be the first country in the world to introduce licensed blogging?

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

29 April 2008 -

"THE rise of the no-frills airline sector has seen Tom Dalrymple, the Scottish founder of the Flyglobespan group, become one of the richest people in Britain, according to an extended version of The Sunday Times Rich List published today.

The 63-year-old, whose firm is this year adding services to Cyprus and Canada, has seen his personal worth soar to £75m, making him the joint 1,049th richest person in the UK. "

17 December 2009 -

"Administrators for collapsed airline Flyglobespan said they have had to make a large number of redundancies.

Out of the 650 workers at the Edinburgh-based firm, 550 are now without a job.

Bruce Cartwright from administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) said there was no choice other than to cease flights and make redundancies.

He said that everything was being done to ensure that 4,500 stranded holidaymakers would be brought home.

All flights were cancelled after Flyglobespan's parent company, Globespan, entered administration on Wednesday at 1700 GMT.

Passengers are currently stranded in Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Egypt."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jug Eared Carbon Super Consumers For Gaia, Death Doctors And Stuff

HRH The Prince of Wales has popped up at the Copenhagen Climate Conference to urge the delegates that "with your signatures, you can write our future”.
He is an underemployed dilettante - by any definition, the performance of royal duties cannot be considered strenuous, and I do wish that the British Monarchy's many apologists would stop insulting our intelligence by saying that they are - who involves himself in matters which are none of his concern. All his life, he has lived a subsidised lifestyle beyond the wildest dreams of those who will one day be his subjects, and which very possibly involves the personal consumption of more carbon in a year than the rest of us consume over the course of our lives. When I want to be preached to, I'll go to Mass, and listen to a preacher I prefer to pay for, rather than one whose stipend is drawn from me by force. One hopes that the Prince of Wales's apparent hypocrisy is unintentional; he has never given the impression of being the sharpest knife in the box, and one feels that the irony of such a huge consumer of carbon as himself attending a climate conference might have got past him.
And our MP's want to back your doctor's seizure of the right to kill you. It is to be hoped that you will be able to retain the right to object. Somehow, being a royal or a politician doesn't seem to make you a people person.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Orwelliana, 4

The rule of law is sacrosanct. Agreed? All our rulers say so, so it must be true. Just ask Munir Hussain.
A justice system which demands that victims of very violent and unpleasant crimes, such as home invasion robberies, who respond in a perfectly understandable manner when presented with the opportunity to do so, be punished, like Mr. Hussain has been, for taking 'the law into their own hands', and sent down with flatulent legalisms such as 'the rule of law and our system of criminal justice, which are the hallmarks of a civilised society, would collapse' if they were not imprisoned ringing in their ears, is one which does not provide justice.
The sentencing judge in this case seems to have come to his work with his head, or whatever other portion of his anatomy he uses to think with, screwed on back to front. There seems to have been no introspection regarding what they themself would do if they found themself tied up on the floor along with their wife and children. In one sense, this is commendably professional, for a judge must always sentence on the evidence - on the other hand, there's being commendably professional, and there's being inhumane. One wonders just what that family said to each other when they were at their attackers' mercy; one wonders what fears for their children were going through the parents' heads.
In the United Kingdom, the one monopoly that's allowed is the state's monopoly on violence. This monopoly's ongoing maintenance gives the lie to the idea that we are a society based on market principles. The reason for its continued existence is that those who rule us are afraid us. Given the apparently ungovernable British peoples' remarkably pacific attitude to the serial injustices their rulers have subjected them to over the past millenium, why they should think this way is anyone's guess. However, they wish to continue to rule us, and would prefer that we be imprisoned and terrorised by home invasion robbers rather than possess the right to seek a peremptory solution to grievous bodily injustice which might give us the taste for a bit more of the same.
While not endorsing or recommending the use of violence in any way, my sympathies in this case really do lie quite firmly with the man, the responsible and hardworking husband and father whose factory I'm sure both Gordon Brown and David Cameron would be gagging to visit if it gave them a suitable photo-op under different circumstances, who beats the living crap out of the career criminal who imprisons him and his family in their own home while trying to rob them. If the same thing happened to me, I don't know how I'd react. I like to think I'd show admirable sang froid, presence of mind, grace under pressure or the characteristics touted by whatever other losers' mantra you might care to name; I hope I'd turn the other cheek; but I'm afraid, in the sense of being frightened, that what I'd really do is beat the little bastard to death.
The rule of law only works if it is properly acknowledged by all parties to the events which it governs. Yes, what this man did was illegal; but can we really condemn him? Recent British governments have displayed a remarkable facility for lawmaking, vomiting out legislation at an historically unprecedented rate. We now have over 3,000 more criminal offences than we did in 1997, and yet the streets are less safe. Did crimes like the one to which Munir Hussain and his family were subjected even happen 10 years ago?
One side of the brain laughs at this, and thinks that we are now governed by a caste of people whose attitude to life is not dissimilar to that of the more irritating type of female schoolteacher, hands forever clapping for silence while shouting primly 'Come along, children!' This patronising assumption of criminality instead of innocence, malevolence instead of benevolence, is now so brazen, so in your face, that when confronted with such people, one's natural inclination is now to behave in a way in which one never behaved in school, and instead to behave like the worst kind of street corner ned when he sees a TV camera; walk right up to it, stick two fingers up to it, shout rude words into it and generally behave in an unseemly and embarrassing manner. Those on the receiving end, the ones who like making call centre workers' lives difficult because they feel superior for no particular reason, can't stand it, and having to suffer it is good for their souls. And I have learned from the best - I ride the bus with Glasgowman. I have not yet reached the stage of making obscene gestures at CCTV cameras, but I fear it's not far off.
Yet this persistent spewing of criminal offences at the public, while at the same time demanding that the public retains its respect for the rule of law, is oppressive; there is no other word for it. One does not oppress a nation by accident, therefore it must be assumed that Tony Blair came to power intent on oppressing the British people. Quite who this arrogant fart thought he was to think that he could oppress us, I don't know; he comes from Stepps, for goodness sake. The criminalisation of the British public for being, well, British in public is just another of those incidents where 'Tony' confused his electoral mandate with public approval of all his works. This was quite wrong; but it is extremely unlikely that this state of affairs will change in the immediate future.
Those who matter have too much invested in keeping the British people suspicious of each other. An oppressed people is a suspicious people. The Establishment's need to make people suspicious of each other is the best evidence there can be of the serial failure of every piece of legislation likely to affect the culture which the United Kingdom has passed since about 1965.
The abortion mills run non-stop, with not a dirty raincoat or wire coathanger in sight. Our stupid divorce laws, laws designed to make working class women, already unhappy with their lives as a result of reading too many magazines and watching too much TV, even more unhappy, have had catastrophic consequences for British family life. Far too many children go to sleep at night with only one of their parents in the house; and the other's not likely to be on night shift. Manufactured hypermobility prevents us from putting down roots in one place, while a flexible labour market ensures that we never really get a chance to develop common bonds with work colleagues. In order for this whole damn house of cards to stay up, people must be conditioned to keep each other at arm's length. There is no better way of doing that than by training wee ones to think that the nice old man next door might be a paedo, or, for adults, that the postman might be stealing your credit card details.
A certain facade of respect for liberties is maintained by having organisations like 'Liberty' still hanging around. 'Hanging' is, I suppose, the operative word; not having had a death penalty for a number of decades now, the civil liberties industry seems to have been at a loose end for many years. I am deeply suspicious of professional civil libertarians, if only because they seem to get to define what civil liberties actually are, and only seem ready to defend those they think you should have; not all the ones you might actually have. It is to be hoped that the fragrantly ubiquitous Shami Chakrabarti takes up the case of Munir Hussain, a husband and father who has been imprisoned for lashing out, with quite some force, at a man who tied his family up in their home - it seems like a classic injustice to me. We shall see.
Of course, Orwell would have recognised this all too well - and as so often, he also wouldn't have had the answer to it. He understood ideology perfectly, but a great deal of history and all of religion was beyond him. But the answer's there; what can't go on, doesn't. It might not change in the immediate future; but it will change, and possibly sooner than anyone thinks.
Ever since Orwell wrote '1984', mass communication and cultural contact have shown that slave societies of the kind which Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and others have tried to build in the UK can't last. Slavery now needs closed and ignorant societies; and it doesn't have them, and won't get them. The only functioning totalitarian slave society now operating in the world is, er...North Korea! Yep, that's a peach. Even I thought that Stupor Mundi looked pretty funky in his Gucci Mao pyjamas when he was in China not so long ago , but going Nork is just, well, a bridge too far. The ability to oppress is dependent on the ability to control information. They have attempted to oppress us at just the time in history when mass communication has never been more mass, nor more communicative.
There are of course ways in which mass communication could be preserved - Google could buy News Corporation (hereinafter to be referred to in this space as 'Newskorp') for no purpose other than to break it up, or the British and American governments could butcher it into pieces on the legislative slab (Newskorp's most recent nasty little piece of warmongering is -hopefully - going to be posted on shortly; I'm sure they're quaking in their boots, and that Keith is feeling a chill wind round his billabong). It is not right that one private company should have so much power to present the past - for he who controls the present controls the past; he who controls the past controls the future.
But I digress. Free Munir Hussain. You know you want to - because you know you should.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Colonial Officers Without Colonies

We have not been conquered since 1066. This, and many other things, has made us ungovernable. The energy this produced was, for a long time, diverted to Empire. No Empire, big problem. The issue of ungovernability has become pressing, hence all moves to disarm us, while those who would previously have become colonial officers have become social workers instead.

Imposing Quotas On The Fishers Of Men

Good to see that assorted parascribblers from the 'Daily Telegraph' have got in on the whole 'population growth will have a severe impact on house prices' kind of journalism in which certain English newspapers specialise.
Yet the biscuit must go to Boris Johnson, for his comment that,
"We are replicating too fast, hurtling towards nine billion souls on the planet like bacteria multiplying on a Petri dish."
You saw it there first, folks - that's what the people who rule you think of you. You are like bacteria on a dish; your only purpose being to respond in the way the experiment predicts - and if you do not, to be flushed away, your space disinfected of any trace of your presence.
Johnson is nothing if not confused; to 'replicate' means to produce an exact copy, while his use of the word 'souls' to refer to creatures that he then immediately compares to single-celled organisms seems to indicate that he does not understand the nature of either type of being. It should perhaps be suggested to him that if he is really worried about population growth, he can always go for the snip.

Lady Gaga

No, not the former once and future Stefani Germanotta; but Baroness Warnock, for suggesting that dementia sufferers may have a duty to die.
I haven't gratuitously insulted anyone for a long time; my apologies to Miss Germanotta for any offence caused by linking her name with a freak.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Short Reflection On The Career Of Christopher Hitchens

(From one of my favourite poems, Byron's 'The Vision of Judgment', and inspired by the incredibly mean-spirited review of Sarah Palin's book which Hitchens has published in today's 'Sunday Times') -
"He had written praises of a Regicide;
He had written praises of all kings whatever;
He had written for republics far and wide,
And then against them bitterer than ever;
For pantisocracy he once had cried
Aloud, a scheme less moral than 'twas clever;
Then grew a hearty anti-jacobin—
Had turned his coat — and would have turned his skin.

He had sung against all battles, and again
In their high praise and glory; he had called
Reviewing "the ungentle craft," and then
Became as base a critic as e'er crawled—
Fed, paid, and pampered by the very men
By whom his muse and morals had been mauled:
He had written much blank verse, and blanker prose,
And more of both than any body knows"

Friday, December 11, 2009

That's That

It is disappointing to see that Kenny MacAskill saw fit to announce this revolutionary development to the media, rather than to the Scottish Parliament. One might consider it to be a joke and wish that it were gone, but while it's there its members should respect it; if they don't, is anyone else going to? Making policy announcements to the media rather than to the legislature is just so New Labour.
And it is extremely disappointing to see the Tory adviser Paul McBride QC, who I believe is a fellow Old Aloysian, appear to endorse this, saying,
"If one thinks of rape cases involving children, rape cases involving adults, horrific murder cases, and new evidence of a compelling nature comes to light that wasn't available at the trial that demonstrates beyond any question the person is guilty, is it right as a society to say that persons should go free?"
At all times and under all circumstances, the answer is Yes; if the current prosecutors can't do their jobs, sack them and get new ones.
"By the Union with England, the middling and inferior ranks of people in Scotland gained a compleat deliverance from the power of an aristocracy which had always oppressed them."
It appears that the aristocracy is reverting to type; and the ideologies of type know no boundaries. Wha's like us?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Attenboroughed

Who says secularism isn't a religion?
Like a pig's joint held out by a medieval simonist to be the knee of St. Dominic, for one, brief shining moment the Frankfurt lemur held out hope to the hopeless that it was going to prove to be something that, er, a little scientific enquiry showed that it wasn't. All hopes pinned on it were false hopes - fools' hopes. And as I wrote at the time, the eminent natural history broadcaster Sir David Attenborough really should have been suspended by the BBC for having joined in the hoopla.
Sir David was on again last night; fronting what was, in my opinion, one of the most shocking examples of public service broadcasting being used to disseminate propaganda that I can recall.
He is the patron of the Optimum Population Trust, right? He is very worried about how many people there are about, and such concerns are deemed to be good; conversely, suggesting that anyone concerned about the size of the Earth's population is, of course, free to put their head in the oven any time they want is deemed to be in poor taste.
Last night, BBC2's 'Horizon', ostensibly a science show, gave him an hour to chunter on and on and on about the 'dangers' of overpopulation. In my opinion this was biased broadcasting of the worst sort; and of course, just like you, I helped pay for it.
It seemed to have more holes in it than a Swiss cheese. NASA boffins say they can see the evidence of the danger to our ecology from space! And? They're servants of the American taxpayer - their views on population are, like Attenborough's, neither here nor there. A guy called Brian Richter was produced to moan about our use of water, given that the amount of the world's water is a constant. What immediately came into my head when seeing this was, of course, that given that human beings are largely composed of water, fewer humans means more water for the ones that are left. Grandpa might have done you a service by drinking himself to death - it means you can drink Grandpa.
A single reference to climate change might indicate that the show was recorded before 'L'Affaire Climategate' broke - oops a daisy! I would be very surprised indeed if resource competition played the part in the Rwandan genocide of 1994 that seemed to be suggested for it - if it played any part at all, it would probably no greater or lesser than its tedious role in any other gencoide. And, oh, yes, the way forward is shoving Mickey Finns into African woman. Patience, Constance and Charity were shown with their five year hormone implants in their upper arms - and The Knight Saw That It Was Good.
It was creepy. Doubly creepy, in fact, given its timing, what with the world's most powerful leaders meeting soon to discuss the fraudulent epiphenomenon called 'climate change'. The characteristics that Climategate has shown climate change to share with many other religions is that it has its own fair share of pious frauds and lying bastards. One often gets the feeling that those schizophrenic, preening, posturing teenagers, both physical and mental, who attend climate change marches, the ones who've never got over posing in front of the mirror and who cannot get it into their heads that they cannot both save Gaia and buy every new must-have item of consumer electronics; well, one often gets the feeling that these people think the rest of us are just in their way; that we're refuse, vermin, fit to be exterminated like all other vermin. That's all you can do with vermin. Kill it.
Oh, I'm not suggesting for a moment that the Copenhagen pagans would like a quick prance in the buff round the Georgia Guidestones, with their injunction to 'Maintain Humanity Under 500,000,000 In Perpetual Balance With Nature'; but efforts to limit climate change, something that just happens anyway, are going to be pointless. It's like commanding the tide to stop. Whatever is done, the outcome might be fewer people, sooner or later. Whether that process of possible population decline sooner or later involves actual population decline being achieved one way or the other is what really scares me.
This programme was flawed, flawed, flawed. Just as the secularists have their relics, so too do they have their sacred cows; and Sir David Attenborough seems to be one the biggest old bulls on the block.
Perhaps it's time for that particular sacred cow to be put out to pasture.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Bennett And Bogart

Meant to post this yesterday.
Watching Mark Lawson interview Alan Bennett on BBC4 last Sunday night, I was struck by something Mr. Bennett said. I could be doing him a very grave disservice, but I'm almost sure he said that while in New York with 'Beyond the Fringe', he met 'faded film stars...like Bette Davis (and) Humphrey Bogart'.
Given that 'Beyond the Fringe' was formed in 1960 and Humphrey Bogart died in 1957, a meeting would certainly have been memorable for them both. The relevant section is between 21.45 and 21.55.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Ways To Create A More Flexible Labour Market

Okey-dokey, let's assume for a moment that a flexible labour market is a good thing.
Let's do away with all trade unions, employment protections, Industrial Tribunals, and company pensions, and have open immigration for both the skilled and unskilled. Fabulous.
Eh? Not quite. Comrades, this is not radical enough!
In order to have a truly flexible labour market, you'd also need to abolish notice periods and golden handcuffs. Walk in one day, take your wages and walk out the next, no questions asked. How could any right-thinking labour economist not think this flexible?
The moral of the post must, of course, be pointed out for ideologues, and others perhaps more slow of understanding than this blog's readership - that the abolition of employee protections does not alone a flexible labour market make; employers' rights have to be abolished as well. However, as one of the few countries ever to have had a counter-revolution without ever having had a revolution to begin with, it is unlikely that the United Kingdom will ever consider such a radical move anytime soon.

Environmentalism, Its Opponents, And Their Mutual Priggishness

Is it just me - but as an admittedly, in fact blissfully, unconcerned participant in the Earth's climate, don't both self-appointed climate factions give off a nauseating reek of priggishness?
All this guff is for the underemployed; those who have nothing better to do than to tell everyone else how to live. The rest of us have work, and lives, to be getting on with. All of it, on both sides, is just propaganda.

A True Underdog Story

Ho, hum.
The Journal Of The Law Society of Scotland notes that,
"Fears have been expressed that the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill could compromise the independence of the legal profession in Scotland due to the possibility of increased Government intervention in the Law Society of Scotland."
The soi-disant, ersatz 'Scottish Government' will not be happy until, pace Patches O'Houlihan, The Old Lady of Drumsheugh Gardens resembles something like The American Dodgeball Association of America - it must be The Scottish Law Society of Scotland.
The Writers to the Signet are mounting their own wee Culloden against these proposals, and are going to say that "(i)t is fundamentally untenable...to have the representative function for solicitors within a body whose Council is indirectly controlled by the Government and whose responsibility it is to regulate the legal profession through a non-solicitor controlled committee. We question how the independence of the solicitors' profession will be protected under these arrangements."
Of course, they know very well that it can't be; Scottish civic nationalism's ultimately fascist character - the softest of soft fascism dressed up in the most tasteful Salmond pink, but fascism nonetheless - can suffer nothing which is not outwith the state; even the legal profession, one of our most historic safeguards against state power.
If we win this one, folks, it'll be a true underdog story. Can anyone else imagine The Tartanissimo in the Ben Stiller role?

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005

It seems that the tedious Scottish underclass habit of making hoax calls to the emergency services is to us what making abusive telephone calls in the middle of the night is to the Argentinians; unfortunately, we have no Borges to denounce it.
The practice seems to be outlawed by the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005. This law's ponderous title, so typical of the Scottish Parliament, makes one wonder what else is within its remit. Does it direct that a fire will be extinguished should it become too hot? Are we pursuing a rigorous, 'zero tolerance' approach to fire?

Low Emissions, Blank Screens

If the thoughts of Abigail Gliddon and Ariane Sherine did not already provide sufficient evidence to support the contention that 'Comment is Free' seems to exist to provide a certain type of underemployed lassie with something to do, up pops Sandy Ross to demand that Google provide information on its carbon emissions.
One day, she will get the information she is looking for - when the folks at Google pull the site down to see just how well our public intellectuals, both established and wannabe, get on without the algorithm for a while.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Scotland's Political Class - Stamping On The People, Guid Scots Together

Sadly, it comes as no surprise that The Copfighter-General should be reported as intending to abolish double jeopardy regardless of the Scottish Law Commission's recommendation that no significant change be made to the law, after its publication has led our tax-tit-sucking-Solons to engage in a bout of communal carpet-chewing.
According to the 'The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland',
"Conservative and Labour spokesmen both said the report was weak in not permitting past cases to be reopened".
It would appear that both of these gangs - for political parties should only ever be considered to be gangs - want the law to endorse the persecution of the citizen, and for those whose little fingers have forgotten more about the law of Scotland than their own fat, sweaty, bald, ugly, old, mean-spirited carcasses will ever know to provide justification for their desire to pass laws which, regardless of their stated intentions, will serve no purpose other than to enable the police to persecute the public. These people do not need election; they need therapy.
Does their hatred of humanity stem from having had their lunch money stolen at school? Do they harbour uniform fantasies? Is it in fact their deepest wish that a Chief Constable pat them on the head and tell them they're a good boy or girl?
To be a polis's bitch?
Why should a report be weak when it doesn't give you what you want? Can't they stomach the fact that their country's legal system is independent of government control? Do they want judges, or ghillies?
As for victims' relatives - it's time the gloves came off.
In a society in which you can get anything you want just about anytime you want, even a bride if you are so inclined, it seems to be very hard for some people to understand that criminal justice is a collective endeavour. Those who say 'We haven't got justice' when an accused person is acquitted of a crime should be reminded that they have got justice; the collective justice of the courts and society. Instead of having been pandered to, what really should have been said to some of these people a very long time ago is that the justice they've received is the only justice they're ever going to get. They might be able to dominate their wives and homes like gods if they are so inclined - but outside those strict parameters, they are little men like any others, and their shreaks of outrage at not getting what they want might elicit some sympathy for a while; until their fellows recognise that what they want is just as dangerous as the people they wish to see locked up. These people do not speak for the public. They only ever speak for themselves.
There should be a name for this legal phenomenon. It should be called 'Swire's Disease'.
Collective justice is not personal justice - if you want personal justice, become a vigilante and wait to see what happens to you. The very same politicians who have courted you and fanned the flames of your grievances will come after you with all guns blazing.
Criminal justice is not a Thatcherite endeavour. It is naturally collective. It should not be personalised, no matter how vocal some aggrieved people think it should be. This is another of those occasions when being Scottish makes me feel dirty; the thought of just how cheap and coarse and insubstantial Scottish civilisation actually is, or has become, making me wish to vomit. A soi-disant, ersatz 'Scottish Government' of those who claim to love the Scottish nation will push through legislation which will result in some Scots being oppressed, and all Scots living in fear of oppression, for no reason other than their desire to look bigger and harder than those in the other gangs; behaviour of the kind engaged in by the worst kind of blogger or redtop newspaper columnist. At least newspaper columnists have the advantage of knowing how many inches they have to work with.
Our 'Justice Secretary' (actually, by law he's only Justice Minister, but don't mention that too loudly), you know, the one who got himself arrested at a football match a number of years ago, an adept inept so adept that he managed to make himself look like Koko the Klown during his career's most public display of principle, is the worst of the lot. He is a solicitor; he should know better. The Scottish legal profession's capacity to disappoint is limitless.
I'm going for a long lie down. If anyone thinks this essay is intemperate, they should have seen what was edited out. But I am angry about this. The abolition of double jeopardy is neither necessary nor in the interests of justice. In Scotland, we have reached the stage of passing laws for no purpose other than to enable the judicial persecution of a single man. This man has done very many bad things during the course of his life, for which he is paying the penalty. Having had his day in court, it is neither just nor right that he should be forced to undergo trial once again for crimes of which he has already been acquitted. It's him today; it's you and me tomorrow. That Scotland's politicians, and I suspect its public servants, don't seem to think this way says more about them than it does about us.
Those who would play fast and loose with tradition should remember that both adjectives also apply to the symptoms of diarrhoea; and one wonders just how badly the Crown Office needs an enema.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Slave Civilisations

The collapse of Dubai's adobe slave civilisation is just as much A Good Thing as it was A Bad Thing that many British expatriates seemed to feel no compunction about being served by slaves. It would be A Very Good Thing if many such expatriates were really given the official third degree, you know, unnecessary internal body searches, that sort of stuff, the next time they land at Heathrow.
Dubai's collapse is the best hope for its slaves. While slavery will persist for as long as humanity endures, entire civilisations built on slavery just don't have the legs to keep going anymore. What does for them in the end is the mass realisation that they are slave civilisations. If there is one event in life which scares people just as much as dying, it's the thought of being enslaved.
And how the wannabe slave-owners must hate a world grown pale at the Galilean's breath, one which actually finds slavery revolting wherever it's practised!
It's pointless to even try to guess whether the telephone and the Internet would finally have done for the Roman Empire; but in a global labour market, willing slaves are hard to come by. That's why they have to be duped and lied to instead.

Scotland's New Education Minister

Mike Russell MSP steps into the shoes vacated by Fiona Hyslop after The Tartanissimo's massive failure of political and moral courage earlier this week. He bluffed; his bluff was called; and he vented his rage on an underling.
He's some kid.
Mr. Russell is co-author of a book titled 'Grasping the Thistle', described by one critic as 'two Scottish nationalists’ calypso to the so-called ‘business community’, ‘Tally Me Ma Haggis’ if you like, lilting that when Scotland’s independent it will still be a great place to do business'.
Let's turn on the stopclock - for the privatisation of the schools.

Feeding The 5,000

Where are these guys coming from? Don't they, like, realise that a time when people are not happy with them is not the time for them to be chanting their mantras about competition?
They might want rather more for their Christmas than their two front teeth; but there seem to be quite a lot of unhappy people about who would be made much happier by taking them right out of their heads. Time for a spot of humility, chaps. Come on.

Blair's Arrogance

Tony Blair certainly set a few precedents while in office - one would imagine that neither Lloyd George nor Churchill would have been seen dead in a Nehru jacket while serving as First Lord of the Treasury.
Antoher way in which he has shown himself to be a changemaker is the way in which he set out to enrich himself immediately after leaving Downing Street.
'The Guardian' has attempted to penetrate his financial web. 'Web' is a good noun to describe such structures- they're sticky, and once inside them you tend to get trapped. They are also very dull, and good luck to anyone who might feel the inclination to penetrate them.
But even in this hole-in-the-corner furtiveness, Blair seems incapable of suppressing what seems to be his central psychological trait; arrogance. At the web's centre sits an entity named 'Windrush Ventures No. 3 Limited Partnership'.
For a former Prime Minister whose terms saw historically high levels of immigration to draw his bread from an entity named after an immigrant ship is the really public 'Up Yours, Blighty!' he must always have wanted to give. We'd probably have appreciated it more if he'd just given us the two fingers on Whitehall on 1st May 1997.
Hat tip - Laban Tall.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Atheist Idiocy

Justice In The New Model Scotland

Even though there is very much of it to begin with, the abolition of double jeopardy would express all that is vicious, vindictive, mean-spirited, violent, and aggressive in the Scottish national character; a paradise for bullying policemen.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Whammy

The writings of Tim Luckhurst, the rather bellicose Donald Sutherland lookalike and sometime film critic who now serves as professor of journalism at the University of...Kent, I think it is, sometimes merely invoke the reaction, 'Who's Tim Luckhurst?'; forcing me to remember the unpleasant occasion when he seemed to threaten to sue me. Sort of. Perhaps.

However, he has published an article on 'Comment is Free' which will hopefully come to be regarded as a classic of its kind. Of what kind is anyone's guess.

Entitled, 'Why journalism needs paywalls', ostensibly it is another of his diatribes against online journalism. Professor Luckhurst writes of British newspapers' early days that "professional reporters were hired to replace the amateur ideologues that had filled the illegal, unstamped press with political passion but few facts." While many professional journalists undoubtedly approach their work in a serious, professional manner, one can only hope that their efforts will one day overcome the best efforts made by the amateur ideologues who actually own newspapers to undermine their efforts.
Professor Luckhurst goes on to praise the decision of Johnston Press to place, inter alia, the Worksop Guardian and the Carrick Gazette behind a pay wall. Only time will tell if this decision results in the lights going out all over Worksop. But he then goes on to make an astonishing claim - "It was expected that Rupert Murdoch would be the first proprietor to admit the twin stark truths that journalism is not free and that no good has come of the nigh universal pretence that it should be. But the News Corp chairman is not the only one who has noticed that free access to online journalism has been bad for newspaper profits, bad for their editorial independence and bad for representative democracy."
One would have thought that the real danger for representative democracy is the concentration of the media in the hands of a group of people who, if they are British at all, comprise an even smaller percentage of the British public than those who actually provide online content and commentary of their own.
He writes, "(p)retending that online journalism costs nothing has left once great titles from Los Angeles to London in the same grim predicament." If those who control such 'once great titles' have followed defective business models, one would hope that their shareholders would be baying for their heads. Many things have been 'once great', and now exist no more. It is to be hoped that Professor Luckhurst is not trying to make the case that competition is good for everyone but the young people he makes his living teaching.
A propos of nothing before it, he then goes on to make what is one of the most bitterly anti-Catholic statements I can recall reading. He writes,
"Believing that links alone create value is no more rational than imagining that the mass turns comestibles into the flesh and blood of a prophet. "
Now, overlook the mistakes he's made in that sentence (I've counted two of them; 'mass' for 'Mass', and 'a prophet' instead of 'God' - further suggestions welcome). Instead, try to work out just what that has to do with anything he's written before. It just sits there. It's a wallflower at the school disco kind of sentence, feeling lonely and having nothing to do with anything around it. It's not quite as absurd a 'tarantula on a slice of angel cake'; but at least Raymond Chandler has the mitigation of writing that one deliberately. What's it doing there?
But then he goes on to write,
"In the first years of the internet era thousands of professional journalists have lost their jobs because online revenues cannot pay their salaries. Trained reporters who sit in courts and council chambers have become rare. Community reporting has been replaced by global celebrity gossip touted by PR companies. The workings of the state are no longer monitored at first hand and the electorate is deprived of information it needs to exercise choice."
One could take this to any number of places, in any number of ways. Is he actually arguing for protectionism for journalists? Perish the thought. Has every local newspaper published all dirty dealings of which it was aware, at all times and under all circumstances? Pah. If you believe that, you'll believe that the publication of The Zinoviev Letter was in fact not an attempt by a British newspaper to interfere in the democratic process.
The rest of it is in the same vein, with the last sentence - 'When accurate reporting dies it is usually replaced by gossip, prejudice and bigotry' - being particularly laughable in light of the author's immediately preceding comment on the Mass. It is gratifying to see that comments are overwhelmingly negative.
For what Professor Luckhurst does not seem to realise is that online journalism has never at any time been free; and that those who consume it, know it. One of the difficulties of having an educated population is that you can't really trust them to believe what they read in the newspapers.